Should I Apply For a Job That Requires More Experience Than I Have?

Underqualified

“I saw my dream job with a great company on a job forum. However, they are looking for people with at least 15 years of relevant experience. I have less than that. Will the hiring manager even bother to consider me?”

Ah…the tenure threshold. Viewing length of experience as having a linear correlation to work proficiency is one of the biggest misconceptions recruiters can have. But when you’re inundated by dozens of resumes, it’s one of the quickest ways to reduce that to a manageable number, especially for the poor time-pressed person who’s sifting through them.

Good recruiters understand that experience counts for nought if it’s not the right experience. For example, if a candidate has 15 years of experience, but always done a “maintenance” role in stable and mature companies, that experience isn’t worth much to an employer looking for someone to drive change. Compare that to a candidate with fewer years of experience, but has spent the bulk of it leading new projects in his previous jobs. They might hold the same job title, but the quality of the experience is vastly different. No-brainer who I’d pick right?

Unfortunately, your average recruiter is rarely that enlightened. Which is not to say you shouldn’t apply. Like a wise green creature once said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” And to boost your chances of being shortlisted despite not meeting the minimum experience, really study the job description and make an effort to tailor your resume, highlighting your achievements that do fulfil the requirements. It might also help to remove references to specific tenure early on in your resume – “I have 8 years of experience” in the first line is a surefire way to stop the reader from proceeding further down the page if they are looking for minimum of 10 years of experience.

If you’re still hesitant, think about the number of under-qualified (or even unqualified!) people you work with every day. I’m sure you can picture at least one person in your office who is an incompetent moron at his job. Well, you could be the next moron! (Kidding, but you know what I mean).

Of course, if you’re a fresh graduate with no experience who wants to apply to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, then you really are a moron.

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